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Old Babylonian Celestial Divination

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Chapter Summary

Because celestial divination was part of a wider effort to interpret signs in the physical world as divine warnings of things to come, we see a common rationale for all forms of Mesopotamian divination, linking the various omen series to one another. Continuity between the celestial omen tradition reaching back to the early second millennium and the earliest astronomical tradition is fully justified even if viewed conservatively as tied solely to the lunar eclipse tablets. An early astronomical tradition preserved in non-divinatory texts of the end of the second and early in the first millennium and the Astrolabe texts, attests to a foundation of astronomical observation and the early construction of schemes for a variety of phenomena. The history of Babylonian celestial divination is therefore inseparable from the history of Babylonian astronomy, and the shadowy beginnings of one must in fact be those of the other as well.

Keywords: astronomical tradition; Babylonian astronomy; common rationale; lunar eclipse tablets; Mesopotamian divination; Old Babylonian Celestial Divination; omen series



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